An exclusive look at the video for "Jesus and Jones," by R&B legend Sam Moore and bluegrass group Nu-Blu.
We stopped off in Nashville at the Music Row Magazine offices, and they were kind enough to snap a couple of pics with us and include it in the chart page collage for the week! HOW AWESOME! View More Here
As revealed exclusively on Heartland TV and legendary WSM 650-AM’s hit show Coffee, Country and Cody, award-winning band Nu-Blu is pleased to announce they will be taking over as the permanent host of the nationally syndicated television series “Bluegrass Ridge.” With the first two Nu-Blu hosted episodes, fans will get a glimpse inside the music of members Daniel and Carolyn Routh, with exclusive two-part special edition episodes featuring all Nu-Blu, shot on-location at The Station Inn in Nashville, Tennessee (check local listings).
“We’re extremely excited about Daniel and Carolyn Routh of Nu-Blu becoming the permanent hosts of ‘Bluegrass Ridge,’” said executive producer Jeff Moseley/CJM Productions. “Our tradition of bringing great Bluegrass music videos and artist interviews to our viewers remains the same. Nu-Blu’s love and passion of Bluegrass music, as well as their relationships with fellow Bluegrass artists brings an insider-depth to the show.”
The special two-part edition of “Bluegrass Ridge” is music fan’s chance to meet Nu-Blu as the new hosts, and get to know them on a more personal level. The special edition episodes will air on Heartland TV the week of July 30 and August 6. Featuring a combination of brand new music videos, the chart-topping group is taking Bluegrass music to the next level, now reaching millions of new viewers and listeners. “The best part of being a performer is all the folks we get to meet and the friends that we make. We look forward to even more of those friendships as we join viewers each week on Bluegrass Ridge,” says Daniel.
The regular hosted “Bluegrass Ridge” shows are set to begin airing the week of August 13, and beyond. The popular weekly 30-minute program features music videos from bluegrass’ biggest acts, along with artist interviews and behind-the scenes content, allowing viewers a rare first-hand look at a genre that’s never been hotter. Along with Heartland TV, “Bluegrass Ridge” also airs on The Family Channel, Keep It Country – UK and Country TV – New Zealand (check local listings). Bringing a new flair to the program, Nu-Blu will help propel the show to a new level, capturing interviews with guest artists both in-studio and while on the road playing festivals and venues nationwide.
So far, 2018 has proven to be a career-defining year for Nu-Blu, who are currently on tour in support of their latest album, Vagabonds. The album boasts three Top Ten national airplay hits, “Gypsies on Parade” and “640 Battlefield Drive,” and the lead single “Still Small Voice,” a song that was co-written and features Country Music Hall of Fame Statler Brothers singer Jimmy Fortune. Don’t miss as these tracks, along with other songs from the project are featured on future episodes of “Bluegrass Ridge.”
Just in time for Independence Day, award-winning acoustic band Nu-Blu has unveiled the video for their song, “640 Battlefield Drive.” The song has already began turning heads in music circles, storming its way onto the Bluegrass Today Grassicana Weekly Airplay Chart. Fans got a first-look of the video on Bluegrass Today, where it premiered exclusively (watch here).
This song brings to light the dangers on the battlefield while a nation is at war. The story impacts multiple people, from the front lines of the fighting, all the way back to the home front, down to a mother, residing at “640 Battlefield Drive.” Everyone has a battle to fight, each in their own way, but nonetheless the danger is equally real to all involved.
“Sometimes you get these tunes and you just know that you’ve got to do it – you’ve got to cut it, and it’s got to go on the CD. On the first listen through, we definitely knew that this song had to go on the album,” said Daniel Routh. “This is a song that’s not about the band, it’s not about Nu-Blu, its about remembering the sacrifice given.”
The song is featured on Nu-Blu’s latest album Vagabonds. The project includes 11 all-new recordings like the lead single, “Still Small Voice” featuring Country Music Hall of Fame Statler Brothers singer Jimmy Fortune, along with the mainstream anthem, “A Lot More Love.” Fans can purchase “640 Battlefield Drive” and Vagabonds on iTunes, or stream on Spotify.
Rising Bluegrass/Americana group Nu-Blu is pleased to announce the release their latest single, “Gypsies on Parade.” The song serves as the band’s debut release to Grassicana radio. The award-winning group partnered with Cowboys & Indians to unveil the official video for the track (check it out here). The publication is well-known for spotlighting and featuring top entertainers in multiple fields such as Willie Nelson, Matthew McConaughey, Clint Eastwood, and more. Cowboys & Indians describes Nu-Blu as a band who, “blends their Southern roots into heartfelt all-American music.”“Touring over 200 days a year, ‘Gypsies On Parade’ is more than just a song, it’s our life,” said Nu-Blu’s Carolyn Routh. “It’s a life of ups and downs, and we wanted to bring each of you a glimpse of that.”
“Gypsies on Parade” is featured on the band’s latest release, Vagabonds, released via Voxhall Records. The lyrics from the track helped to determine the title of the album, with the key line, “gypsies on parade, vagabonds that got it made.” The track might sound familiar to some fans, as ‘Gypsies’ was written by Sawyer Brown’s Mark Miller and released on their 1986 album, Out Goin’ Cattin’. The original served as the inspiration for Nu-Blu’s new, Bluegrass/Americana take on the Country band’s song.
Media is already raving about Nu-Blu’s version of the song. Backstage Axxess states, “It’s a bold statement but ‘Gypsies on Parade’ is to Bluegrass as Bob Seger’s ‘Turn the Page’ is to Rock and Roll.” Digital Journal calls the rendition a “delicate performance,” while Vents Magazine calls Carolyn Routh’s vocals on the track “mesmerizing, and one of the most standout performances in the genre in the last year.”
Nu-Blu will continue to spread their music to new audiences throughout North America during their “Vagabonds Tour.” With festival season kicking into high gear throughout spring and summer, Nu-Blu is set to have one of their busiest touring years to date. Already in 2018, the band has made major appearances at the national NAMM show in Anaheim, Calif., along with playing the Watson stage at MerleFest in N.C. For the latest tour dates, and all things Nu-Blu, visit nu-blu.com.
Nu-Blu was chosen as the cover and feature artist for the month of February 2018! Read the feature article below:
Finds Success As A Cross-Genre Outfit
By Michael K. Brantley
I always tell people we’re a bluegrass band and sometimes get a puzzled look from them,” said Nu-Blu cofounder Daniel Routh. “Then I have to explain what bluegrass is and we always tell them it’s acoustic music played with power and drive, upbeat, and with passion. Sometimes, we have to explain drive and I just say, ‘Think of your favorite rock band, playing acoustic, without drums.’ I know that’s not a full description of bluegrass, but you have to find a way to relate the music to something they can understand.”
Daniel and his wife, partner and co-founder Carolyn, have lots of conversations with fans that have had little exposure to bluegrass music. Nu-Blu is on the road over 200 days a year, playing all types of venues and to all types of audiences and music listeners. Those listeners often have outdated or simply untrue perceptions about what constitutes bluegrass.
Nu-Blu, which also features T.J. Honaker on vocals and banjo and Justin Harrison on vocals and mandolin, is out promoting its new album and sixth national release, Vagabonds, on Voxhall Records. The North Carolina-based band feels it is their strongest effort yet.
Daniel said, “When people ask about our sound, we tell them to listen to Vagabonds.”
While the album is new, the concept has been in the works for well over a decade. “The concept for this album came about when Carolyn heard Sawyer Brown do their song ‘Gypsies On Parade’ live. We’ve known since 2003 when we formed the band, we wanted to record this song. It sets the mood for the whole album, and the title comes out of that song—from a line that says: Vagabonds that got it made.”
The new album is different in several ways for Nu-Blu. It’s the first effort that doesn’t include any songs written by the Rouths.
“How this came together is unusual,” Daniel said. “We typically don’t record cover songs, and Vagabondshas more cover tunes than we’ve ever done. We usually write songs or get songs from other songwriters and go with whatever fits that particular project best. We’re very careful about how an album flows.”
Daniel said it’s why this album was lingering in the background for so long. “When we record a song, we have to make sure we feel something—happy, sad, angry, something. It needs to hit us emotionally, and it also has to fit the whole story we’re trying to tell with the album. For example, ‘Still Small Voice’ was pitched to us a couple of albums ago, and it just didn’t fit, but when we were working on Vagabonds, Carolyn knew instantly that the timing was right for it. That’s happened on just about every album. Sometimes, you just have to wait on things to come around.”
That’s exactly what happened with “Gypsies On Parade.” An early review referred to the song as the bluegrass equivalent of rocker Bob Seger’s “Turn The Page,” as it talks about life on the road. “It’s about being away from family,” Daniel said. “With us, you just can’t sing about it, you’ve got to live it. When we started, we were weekend warriors then, and we’re full-time now. We are more like vagabonds now—we know that emotion. At some point during the recording, we were all crying. Doing what we do, there are things that you have to sacrifice. But in the end, we have the best job in the world—to make people smile.”
A beginning that almost wasn’t
Music brought the Rouths together earlier this century. They were both playing in a contemporary Christian band together, and Daniel was moonlighting on banjo with another band. When both groups broke up around the same time, Carolyn suggested they start a bluegrass band. However, just as they were starting out, the unthinkable happened.
“I had two strokes right after we started the band in the fall of 2003,” said Carolyn, who was in her early 30s at the time. “It was two incidents on Thanksgiving Day that happened at about the same time and affected two spots on my brain. At the onset, I couldn’t form words at all and then was in a medically-induced coma for three or four days. When I came out, I could talk.”
Undeterred, the duo (who married in 2006) got right back after it. Carolyn credits much of that to an early music teacher and mentor, Dr. JoAnn Bowman. “It was a dream to start a band, and Dr. Bowman taught me to keep going and the importance of how the show must go on; when you’re scheduled to perform, you perform,” she said. “I’m very goal-oriented. I’ve been blessed to have come back and now be full-time.”
Both of the Rouths got their starts in music early. As a teenager, Daniel got his first taste of bluegrass on a Sunday morning ride to church. “My dad was flipping through the dial on the radio and I heard something and said, ‘Whoa, flip back. What was that?’ And he said, ‘That’s bluegrass.’ It was Flatt & Scruggs doing ‘Foggy Mountain Breakdown.’ I was hooked.” His father took him around to play with local musicians, and Daniel started on guitar before moving to banjo. He said that time was key and very formative to his musical development. “It was then that I realized music was something I could do as a career.”
Carolyn got her start in the same setting, albeit earlier, in her hometown of Siler City, N.C. “I started singing as a little-bitty thing in a typical country Baptist church,” she said. “I took piano on and off, and I learned to read music, and I still see the keys in my head when I play bass. Even in high school, everything I did centered around music and learning to sing properly.”
Nu-Blu released Nights in 2010, The Blue Disc in 2011, Nail By Nail in 2012, and a tenth anniversary CD appropriately titled Ten in 2013. In 2014, All The Way was released, the title-track is a Carl Jackson tune and there was a guest appearance by Rhonda Vincent. That was also the year that proved pivotal for the group when they participated in a George Jones tribute, recording “Jesus And Jones” with Sam Moore of the legendary duo Sam & Dave. “That really helped knock down some genre walls for people outside of bluegrass,” Carolyn said. “It opened a lot of doors. We got a lot of media and a lot of phone calls. We were on Imus In The Morning, Huckabee, and Ronnie Reno’s show, among other national broadcasts and interviews. Then we had ‘That’s What Makes The Bluegrass Blue,’ which was the most played song on SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Junction in February of 2015.”
As the band went full-steam ahead, they continued playing many shows outside of bluegrass venues, and they’ve played in 47 of the 48 continental states. The Rouths believe it not only expanded Nu-Blu’s base, but also helped them to become bluegrass ambassadors. “We do traditional bluegrass shows and festivals, but we also get invited to do more general music events. What’s exciting is that we’re able to take bluegrass music to a whole lot more people. We’re exposed to hundreds of thousands more people,” Daniel said. “We always have folks who come up to us and have never realized or paid attention to bluegrass and say, ‘Wow, we really liked your music.’ Then when we come back around to those places, they tell us they’ve been to a bluegrass festival or show. We’re helping to get more people into the bluegrass fold, and that’s very satisfying and part of a much bigger picture.”
Daniel said a performance at the NAMM show (a music products convention) a couple of years ago is a great example. “The pop and rock guys were right in front of the stage, and they thought it was acoustic rock,” Daniel said with a laugh. “That’s what holds true with bluegrass. People don’t get it until they see it live. They are used to large bands with lots of musicians and a front person, then they see a bluegrass band with just a few people, and they see what everybody’s doing and how it works together.”
Carolyn said that the expansion to other venues has been important to the business ledger as well. “The momentum we have created helps, and it is a business. You have to realize it’s called the ‘music business’ for a reason. It’s good to step outside bluegrass and see what other people are doing and to get the larger picture. You’ve got to be thinking about what is the next step. Adding Webster Public Relations in Nashville to our team, who don’t just represent bluegrass, has also opened doors. The music world is a small community, and there is respect and camaraderie from other genres.”
Carolyn said that she and Daniel also want to offer encouragement to other musicians. “People say you can’t make a living in bluegrass, it’s impossible. I get frustrated when I hear that. We should encourage young people who dream to do this, who want to entertain. We shouldn’t tell them ‘you need another job’ to do this. We should say, ‘You’ve got to work hard and structure your time, and learn the business.’”
While they are enjoying their exposure outside of bluegrass, Nu-Blu plans to stay true to its core and its belief that good music is good music. “A great song is a great song,” Daniel said. “We’ve got straight-up bluegrass on this album, and then we’ve got tunes like ‘Knocking On Heaven’s Door.’ On the side of our tour bus we have printed: ‘Bending the Boundaries of Bluegrass.’ We will always be a bluegrass band, but we’re kind of stretching what areas that bluegrass can exist in. We’re reaching people who didn’t or wouldn’t normally listen, and for me, that’s gold. That’s when we expand the music.”
Carolyn takes that a step further. “The heart of it is that it starts with a good song, and a good song is one you want to hear again and again. It doesn’t matter the genre if it sparks an emotion. I love where we are right now. This album started with ‘Gypsies,’ and we aren’t just singing it—it’s my life. I’m thankful everyday. It’s a great life, and a great big world with lots of stages, and I want to play as many of them as possible.”
With 2018 already in full swing, Nu-Blu is happy to announce the addition of Justin Harrison to the band. The 24-year-old Morehead State University graduate from the Traditional Music Program will serve as the group’s new mandolin player. Harrison will join other band members, including lead singer / bass player Carolyn Routh, lead guitarist Daniel Routh and banjo player TJ Honaker.
“The move to join Nu-Blu was an easy choice to make. They are poised to make big moves in the next several years, and the band structure and marketing is set up like none that I’ve ever seen,” says Harrison. “I am looking forward to all the music and memories to come."
Harrison has a rich history as a musician, with the performer’s father also playing mandolin. The instrumentalist has experience performing for Bluegrass fans already, after a recent tenure with The Karl Shiflett & Big Country Show. The North Carolina native also has experience touring stateside and internationally, including a tour in China with the Morehead State University Mountain Music Ambassadors Band.
“Timing is everything, and that’s definitely evident with the way things have worked out to bring Justin into Nu-Blu,” said Daniel Routh. “With the opportunities we have on the horizon and the direction we are going, he’s the perfect fit for the band.”
Sausage Balls Recipe:
2lb. Sausage, hot or mild, or mix
2lb. Grated Cheese, mild or sharp
6 cups of Bisquick
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Grease a baking sheet.
Mix baking mix, Cheddar cheese, sage-flavored pork sausage, and hot pork sausage together in a bowl. Roll mixture into golf ball-sized balls; arrange balls on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake in the preheated oven until meatballs are no longer pink in the middle and browned on the outside, 25 to 30 minutes.
Do you have a favorite Christmas candy?
It’s not really a candy, but I can eat my weight each Christmas in Sausage Balls, lol! -Daniel Routh
Chocolate Covered Cherries – Carolyn Routh
What’s your favorite Christmas memory/is there a toy you received that to this day still makes you smile thinking of it?
I think it would have to be the year I got a go-cart. My dad had been locking up the shop and not letting me go near it. I was pretty upset for about three months leading up to Christmas because building things in there was one of my favorite things to do. Little did I know he was completely restoring a go-cart for me that whole time! -Daniel Routh
Laying on the floor under the Christmas tree watching the lights dance on the ceiling. Favorite gift: Cowboy Boots -Carolyn Routh
What sort of things did you get in your stocking as a child?
Mostly the normal stuff, candy, Hot Wheels, etc. -Daniel Routh
Fruit and candy -Carolyn Routh
Do you have a favorite Christmas album?
Mine would have to be Perry Como’s Christmas Album. It’s not Christmas without hearing that over and over. -Daniel Routh
‘Shine’ by Nu-Blu -Carolyn Routh
Do you have any favorite tradition’s or favorite movie’s for the holiday season?
Oh, no question, “It’s A Wonderful Life,” is the best movie ever made!!! Period. -Daniel Routh
Decorating the tree and putting out the nativity scene. Favorite movie: “Christmas with the Kranks” -Carolyn Routh
What are you thankful for this year?
I think that I’m most thankful for where I’m at in life in general. Our band is in a great place with a great team, we have lots going on and building for next year. I was just thinking the other day that while I’m always looking to the future and pressing to reach my goals, that its so necessary to be comfortable in the place where you are now. I think that allows for the most creativity to flow. -Daniel Routh
My family, my health, and the opportunity to live my dreams. -Carolyn Routh
What are your hopes for 2018?
Really looking for a great year. The biggest hope for 18 is that we have even more chances to reach new fans with our music. -Daniel Routh
As always, health, wealth, and prosperity. -Carolyn Routh
Among the group’s latest musical output is a beautifully delivered Christmas song called “Shine,” which offers up a very different viewpoint of Christ’s birth.
“There are many great traditional Christmas songs, which makes finding or writing a new one quite challenging. This makes ‘Shine’ even more special. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring it to you and hope you enjoy this slightly different view of Christ’s birth from the perspective of the Star of Bethlehem,” lead singer Carolyn explains.
This song serves as the title track for the Bluegrass band’s latest EP, which dropped on November 17th and can be purchased via iTunes here. Included on the project are Christmas classics “Jingle Bells” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” as well as seasonal sacred tunes “Mary Did You Know” and “What Child Is This.”
“Christmas is our favorite time of the year! This year is extra special because we have the opportunity to share a few of our favorite Christmas songs, both sacred and secular on our first ever Christmas CD. Recording this project was an exciting, unique, and very emotional experience. The birth of our Savior is not only a time for quiet reflection, but also for great joy and celebration. That’s what we have strived to convey for this wonderful season,” Carolyn also shared.
Be sure to share this gorgeous Christmas tune with others who would appreciate it!
Nashville,Tenn. 11/17/18 -It may only be November, but Bluegrass sensation Nu-Blu isn’t wasting any time getting into the Christmas spirit with their upcoming project, Shine. The EP serves as the award-winning band’s first holiday effort. The future stocking-stuffer will be available this Friday, November 17 and is released via Voxhall Records. Fans can purchase a copy on iTunes, Amazon, and other popular digital retailers nationwide, or stream on Spotify, Pandora or other major streaming services.
“Christmas is our favorite time of the year! This year is extra special because we have the opportunity to share a few of our favorite Christmas songs, both sacred and secular on our first ever Christmas CD. Recording this project was an exciting, unique, and very emotional experience. The birth of our Savior is not only a time for quiet reflection, but also for great joy and celebration. That’s what we have strived to convey for this wonderful season.” -Carolyn J Routh, Nu-Blu
The lead single from the EP, “Shine,” was penned by award-winning songwriters Kristy Jackson (Take It Back – Reba McEntire) and Megan Conner (Rascal Flatts, Chris Young, The Swon Brothers). The title track tells a familiar story, with a clever spin, detailing the Saviors birth from the perspective of the star that marked his birthplace in Bethlehem.
Shine features five new recordings, all with a unique Bluegrass twist. Included on the project are Christmas classics like “Jingle Bells” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” as well as seasonal sacred tunes “Mary Did You Know” and “What Child Is This.”
It’s been a jam-packed year for Nu-Blu, who kicked off the 2017 performing at the national NAMM show in Anaheim, California; the year would later see the in-demand Americana/Bluegrass band performing throughout North America. Nu-Blu continued to send shockwaves within the genre on the release of their latest full-length album, Vagabonds. The project’s lead single, “Still Small Voice,” features Country Music Hall of Fame Statler Brothers member Jimmy Fortune. The song currently sits at No. 8 on the Bluegrass Unlimited National Airplay Chart.
It’s been a little while since we’ve had new music from Nu-Blu, the North Carolina-based band headed up by husband-and-wife team Daniel and Carolyn Routh. Their last album, All the Way, came out back in 2014, with hit single That’s What Makes the Bluegrass Blue taking the airwaves by storm throughout 2015. They’re back this summer with Vagabonds from Voxhall Records, eleven tracks full of emotional stories and smooth, country-tinged melodies.
The band’s showpiece is bass player Carolyn Routh’s voice, which is in the forefront on all but one song. Part of her talent lies in knowing when a song calls for belting out the lyrics, and when it calls for a softer, more restrained vocal. On opening track, The Bridges That You’ve Burned, a rollicking kiss-off number led by T.J. Honaker’s banjo, she embraces the anger and bitterness in the lyrics, giving a no-good man a firm goodbye. A fun cover of Waylon Jennings’ and Willie Nelson’s Good Hearted Woman calls for a country powerhouse approach (think Tammy Wynette), set to bouncy contemporary grass instrumentation.
On the other hand, the soft guitar intro of 640 Battlefield Drive sets the tone for a story of a mother sending her two sons off to war. Carolyn’s more delicate approach here matches the mother’s pain when she finds out that only one will be coming home. A similar tactic is used on Gypsies on Parade, a melancholy-sounding number written by Mark Miller that takes listeners behind the scenes of a famous band on tour. It’s not all adoring fans and number ones, but plenty of lonely nights and regrets for leaving loved ones at home. Stripped down mandolin and guitar from Clint White and former member Levi Austin work well together to create the song’s atmosphere.
A Lot More Love, penned by Michael Gresham, Jill Spencer, and Troy Johnson, tackles pertinent societal issues, urging listeners to overlook outer appearances, religion, and political beliefs in favor of remembering that “everybody’s got a heart that bleeds, everybody’s got a road to walk.” The lyrics present fairly broad images (a man in a truck with a gun rack, a woman in a VW bug with a rainbow on its window), and it could be argued that it will take more than “a little less hate and lot more love” to fix the divides in American society, but the song is definitely a good reminder to think before judging others. Surround Me with Love, originally an early eighties hit by country singer Charly McClain, is another track with a positive message. It speaks of a comforting person that the singer goes to when “dreams come falling down, friends just can’t be found.” It could easily be read as either a secular love song or as a Gospel song.
Other highlights include the gently rolling How Many Rivers, a quietly lonesome number penned by Shawn Lane and Gerald Ellenburg with lead vocals from Daniel Routh, and the uplifting anthem Still Small Voice from Jimmy Fortune, Tony Lopacinski, and Devin Belle. Fortune and Ben Isaacs provide guest vocals on the stirring song, which urges listeners to allow their inner selves out, embracing imagination and voicing opinions. The band takes a poppy, progressive approach to the song, with a nice buildup to the chorus.
Nu-Blu is a creative band. You’ll very rarely hear them relying on old standards or even bluegrass deep cuts. Instead, they find intriguing new songs from writers both in and outside the genre, and reinvent older tracks that, in general, haven’t yet found a home in bluegrass. On Vagabonds, as on some of their past releases, they embrace more of an acoustic country vibe rather than straight-ahead bluegrass, and it’s definitely a sound that works for them and allows Carolyn Routh’s vocals to shine.
This North Carolina group is anchored by the warm soprano lead singing of Carolyn Routh. On this upbeat lyric about finding inner strength, she is joined by former Statler Brother Jimmy Fortune and the Isaacs’ exemplary harmony man Ben. The result is a track that is as good as progressive bluegrass can be. In its third month on the chart, this track from the Vagabonds CD lands at No. 19. The collection also includes imaginative rearrangements of Waylon & Willie’s “Good Hearted Woman,” Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” the late Norro Wilson’s Charly McClain oldie “Surround Me with Love” and the Sawyer Brown tune “Gypsies on Parade.” - Bob Oermann
Nashville Entertainment Weekly with Host Tj Cates has special #BlueGrass guest Nu-Blu Bluegrass Artists . Heart and soul is husband-and-wife duo Daniel and Carolyn Routh. Carolyn’s caramel-coated soprano is one of the band’s defining traits, at times a tender lullaby, at times a freight train headed straight for you, but always unwinding a surprising tale. Daniel is the group’s backbone, a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist who also handles band management. TJ Honaker on vocals and banjo, and Clint White on fiddle/mandolin round out the quartet’s warm, layered, American roots sound. Together they deliver upbeat, blazing-fingers pick work just as well as gentle, heartwarming ballads, and they do it all with a natural togetherness that can’t be faked, forged over hundreds of shows on the road. Stay tuned after the interview for the New Music Video for "'Still Small Voice". Thank You to Jill Santibanez and Webster Public Relations for setting up the #MusicRow Interview.
Continuing to take their brand of Bluegrass on the road, Nu-Blu are Vagabonds for their recent album release. The North Carolina-based quartet stay true to Bluegrass traditions in their music, expanding on the potential of the genre. Nu-Blu stretch the reach of their songs by adding touches of Americana, Country, and Soul to string band mountain music heritage as Vagabonds opens by setting fire to the past with “Bridges That You Burned”. Nu-Blu slow the strums to cruise down “Battlefield Drive” as the song waves goodbye to young soldiers leaving home, take “A Fool and Her Heart” for a spin on a honky tonk dance floor, voice dreams with hopeful words and whispered rhythms in “Surround Me with Love”, and wonder “How Many Rivers” will tears create for a lonely soul.
Husband and wife team Daniel (guitar, vocal) and Caroline Routh (vocals, upright bass) stand at the heart of Nu-Blu as fellow band members flesh out the music with fiddle, mandolin (Clint White) and banjo (TJ Honaker). Vagabonds welcomes harmony into “Still Small Voices” from Jimmy Fortune and Ben Isaacs as the album brings in songs from Bob Dylan (“Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”) and Waylon Jennings/Willie Nelson (“Good Hearted Woman”). The benefits of being a touring band moving from show to show gives Vagabonds an intuitive unity to its songs as the music tells the tale of a “Troublemaker” formed from abuse and honors the troubadours as “Gypsies on Parade” pulls into a late-night diner. Nu-Blu pair people from varied backgrounds as they tie humanity together with the wishes of “A Lot More Love” as the band builds a bridge to tear down the walls that keep us apart.
In bluegrass music these days, accomplished pickers abound. Some say, however, that the soul of bluegrass music is in vocals. Sonny Osborne, an estimable banjo player, would often say that his brother Bobby's vocals "paid for the farm," despite The Osborne Brothers' success as a bluegrass band. If the late Mr. Osborne was right, then Nu-Blu is on the right track. Nu-Blu features fearsome instrumentalists, but the real attraction to their new release, "Vagabond" is the vocals.
"640 Battlefield Drive" treads the well-worn path of country boys going off to fight a nasty political war ill-suited to their aspirations. But Caroline Routh's penetrating soprano chillingly spins the story from a mother's point of view. Routh's vocals are a solid constant through "Vagabonds," giving an edge to the Parton-ish "A Fool and Her Heart" and "A Lot More Love," which in other hands, would be an empty pop-country anthem. With Routh, it's down-home pathos. "Good Hearted Woman," one of Waylon Jennings' signature pieces (which he wrote with Willie Nelson), sounds like Loretta Lynn on a very good day.
Caroline Routh's vocals may be a centerpiece of Nu-Blu, but the accompaniments are equally as tasty. Husband Daniel tackles vocal duties and instrumental turns with equal efficiency. TJ Honaker on vocals and banjo, and Clint White on mandolin and fiddle complete the quartet. Their licks are startlingly tight and measured, transporting, not overpowering.
Nu-Blu has a good ear for material and for delivering smooth, never choppy, bluegrass licks. Bob Dylan's "Knocking On Heaven's Door" is delivered at 60 percent of the pace of the original, with Honaker's banjo and White's mandolin carrying the torch, lighting the way for Caroline Routh's powerful vocals. There's also an "I'm missing you from the road" song "Gypsies On Parade." The title of the CD derives from its lyrics. When Daniel Routh's lead vocals take center stage on "How Many Rivers," Nu-Blu follows the same approach; the backing instrumentals never overpower the vocals.
"Vagabonds" displays a confident band, minding the bluegrass tradition, but adding its own splash of emotion and clarity.
North Carolina-based bluegrass four-piece Nu-Blu are premiering the music video for their song “Still Small Voice” exclusively for readers of The Boot. The song was co-written by Jimmy Fortune; readers can press play above to watch the clip.
Recorded in 2016 and released on their newest album, Vagabonds, Nu-Blu’s rendition of “Still Small Voice” was a long time coming. They were originally pitched the song in 2011, the band’s Carolyn Routh tells The Boot.
“We knew it was a song that we wanted to record, but it just didn’t ‘fit’ the current album that we were recording at the time,” Routh explains. “It’s really hard to have a song this great and not cut it, but we had to do what was right for that album, so we reluctantly had to let it go.”
As Nu-Blu began work on Vagabonds, their sixth full-length release, “Still Small Voice” resurfaced — or, more accurately, they sought it out, and were successful.
“After some phone calls and a few emails, I managed to track [the song] down,” Routh recalls. “To my surprise and great delight, it had not yet been recorded by anyone. Score!”
It was then that Nu-Blu learned that Fortune — known for his two decades with the Statler Brothers, as well as for his work as a songwriter in Nashville and his country and gospel solo albums — co-wrote “Still Small Voice.” He makes a cameo in Nu-Blu’s music video for the song, as does Ben Isaacs (of the Isaacs); Nu-Blu added a third vocal part to give Isaacs a chance to sing on the tune.
Filmed at Nashville’s Skaggs Place Studios, Nu-Blu’s “Still Small Voice” music video is dedicated to Tony Lopacinski, Fortune’s co-writer and pop-rock band Train’s former guitarist. Lopacinski died of cancer shortly after Nu-Blu were first approached with the song.
“It’s overwhelming to us, the response we have gotten so far on this song; it seems to affect each person who hears it in a different way,” says Routh. “We wanted the video to reflect its true spirit and show a ‘behind-the-scenes’ view of the studio atmosphere it was recorded in.”
Nu-Blu’s latest album, Vagabonds, was released in April. Visit their official website for more information on the record and upcoming shows.
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